Rumors of cheaper iPhone 4 gain momentum

A cheaper version of the iPhone 4 (pictured) is rumored to appear alongside the iPhone 5

Rumors of Apple releasing a cheaper iPhone to compete at the lower end of the smartphone market have been floating around for some time and now Reuters is citing "sources with knowledge of the matter" who say that manufacture of a cheaper 8GB version of the iPhone by Asian suppliers is already underway and is expected to be released around the same time as the upcoming iPhone 5.

Until now, Apple has stuck to the premium end of the smartphone spectrum. But technology pundits have been saying the company needs to provide a cheaper alternative if it is to make a dent in emerging markets such as China where the majority of potential customers don't have the cash to splash around for a premium-priced smartphone.

So far, the only technical specs of the rumored cheaper iPhone - which some have dubbed the iPhone 4S as it is expected to be similar in appearance to the iPhone 4 - revealed by Reuters' sources are that it would sport an 8 GB flash drive that is being manufactured by a South Korean company.

However, since a reduced storage capacity is unlikely to be enough to cut the price of the iPhone in any meaningful way, additional changes such as a different chip, reduced battery capacity or cheaper exterior casing would likely be required.

As usual Apple is playing its cards close to its corporate chest so don't expect the rumors to be confirmed or disproved until the official release of such a device. Which, if released alongside the iPhone 5 as rumored, shouldn't be until around the end of September - again, if the rumors are correct.

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